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Beginner stuff: Cycling and Water Changes

This is a discussion on Beginner stuff: Cycling and Water Changes within the Beginner Freshwater Aquarium forums, part of the Freshwater Fish and Aquariums category; --> Right? Isn't it disturbing? I'm second guessing my water testing kit!!! Maybe I should go buy one for tap water and check all the ...

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Beginner stuff: Cycling and Water Changes
Old 11-09-2009, 10:32 PM   #11
 
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Right? Isn't it disturbing? I'm second guessing my water testing kit!!! Maybe I should go buy one for tap water and check all the other levels too...sometimes I give my dogs unfiltered water!
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:36 PM   #12
 
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I'd not 2nd guess the test kit, unless you got it used from a guy who pulled it out of the far end corner of his garage and undusted it before showing it to you
There's places where its common to have ammonia in the tap water, now how that's regulated & legal don't ask the country chick here LOL

I'd just really call the water company and just even outta curiosity ask them about this.

For the doggies, mine are spoiled rotten and get theirs out of the fridge where it's filtered (but like I said spoiled rotten creatures they are) LOL
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:41 PM   #13
 
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No kidding....I tried to be helpful and see what I can find for you in CA about this....I'm getting hick ups just reading this page LOL
EWG Investigation | U.S. Tap Water Quality Database
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:49 AM   #14
 
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Originally Posted by stephanieleah View Post
Wow thanks for the advice. I just checked my tap water (one test for untreated tap water and one test for tap water treated with Aqua Plus). By the way I'm using the API test kit. They both measured almost 1ppm of ammonia! Disturbing. So then I checked my tank again and it's almost zero! Now I'm convinced my tank is cycled. I was just waiting for that last budge for the ammonia to go down to zero. I didn't test the others so I wonder if the nitrates and nitrite is stable.

In response to your question (Byron) I started testing the water when I bought the pleco about three weeks ago. At that point all levels were zero. Then I added skirts and took out the pleco, and the nitrate slowly started rising (without an ammonia spike...probably because I added live bacteria at the same time I added the skirts?).

I just can't believe I almost did a water change and my new water has quadruple the ammonia that was in the tank.

Should I, then, wait on a water change until my nitrates level goes up to make sure there are enough bacteria to "fix" the ammonia in my tap water? Or just go buy water from the water store?
This is good, and it's easy to resolve. First, the tap water is the ammonia source, and as subsequent posts from Angel have indicated, this is common in many areas, some far worse than 1ppm believe me. The answer is to use a good water conditioner that detoxifies ammonia. I just checked their website, and Nutrafin's Aqua Plus does not say it detoxifies ammonia, so I'll recommend Prime as a good one, but there are some others. Just make sure it removes/detoxifies chlorine, chloramine and ammonia, plus heavy metals [most do this latter if they do the others]. Not all water conditioners detoxify ammonia, my present one doesn't but I don't have ammonia in my tap water. Using one of these conditioners will solve the ammonia issue as far as fish health is concerned.

You will still get an ammonia reading because Prime and the others (there may be one or two that work differently) detoxify ammonia by changing it to ammonium which is basically harmless to fish, and plants need ammonium. At an acidic pH, ammonia automatically changes to ammonium, but in basic (pH above 7) water it remains ammonia; Prime and such change it to ammonium.

Most test kits read ammonia and ammonium as "ammonia" so you may still get a reading for ammonia when using Prime or whatever. Not a problem.

I mentioned plants, you have plants and they must have ammonium. In basic water they have the ability to convert ammonia (which is highly toxic to plants as well as fish) to ammonium. It is also believed they may convert nitrite back to ammonium as well. They can also use nitrate, by converting it back to ammonium, but this is more complicated so they seem to prefer using the ammonia/ammonium and possibly nitrite before nitrate. This is why I said that in a planted tank there will be no cycling issues. The plants grab the ammonia/ammonium from the first, and very little is left provided the plants are numerous and the fish are not overloading the tank. While I recommend Prime or similar, I also don't think you will have much of an issue now with a pwc, just don't overdo it (change 30%) because the plants will help you in this. Once you get Prime or whichever, do 40-50% weekly.

In a biologically established planted tank, your nitrates will always be under 20ppm unless something occurs to upset the biological balance (excessive overfeeding, many dead fish and plants, too many fish added at once, etc). My aquaria are heavily planted and heavily stocked with fish and the nitrate is always 5-10ppm, aqnd closer to 5 than 10.

Byron.

Last edited by Byron; 11-10-2009 at 10:51 AM..
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:02 AM   #15
 
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You know I hate to say this now BUT LOL

Time & again the answer by many many people (not only me lol) to a stable healthy system is PLANTS PLANTS PLANTS. And personally I believe that's the reason I never had all these test readings, algae issues, death etc.
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Old 11-10-2009, 11:52 AM   #16
 
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You know I hate to say this now BUT LOL

Time & again the answer by many many people (not only me lol) to a stable healthy system is PLANTS PLANTS PLANTS. And personally I believe that's the reason I never had all these test readings, algae issues, death etc.
I believe you're right Angel. After all, before the days of mega filters and fancy CO2 systems and mega light, aquarists maintained heavily-planted aquaria with very healthy fish. But the improvements do allow us to add more fish to our tanks now. But the best way is still nature. I frequently tell questioners on filtration that in a planted tank the plants do the filtering and keep the water clean; the filter is only to create a movement and keep it clear by removing suspended particulate matter via pads and media. Clean and clear are very different; clear water can be toxic, and clean water can be unclear. And many planted tank enthusiasts use no filters. Provided the stocking level balances the plants, this can work. But I still use and recommend a filter for the above reason.

Byron.
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Old 11-10-2009, 12:15 PM   #17
 
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Yea and all that stuff is sorta in the same category for me as the invention of thousands of chemicals for any necessity that you may THINK you have in your tank....Sales reasons and profit I do agree with adding filter, but personally I don't agree with the whole chem set.

I'm glad you mentioned it, very true many folks leave their tank completely to itself no high tech no nothing.

You know its kinda like my neighbor feeding her veggy plants a thousand PLUS chemicals & fertilizer and what not have ya, with the result of little to no crop (and personally I'd not eat it). Mine get rainwater & dirt and I have had soooo much this year I fed all my neighbors who wanted any veggies.

Sorry to misuse your thread here Stephanie ~ End of misuse
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:09 PM   #18
 
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Okay, let me distill this. Low nitrate = healthy, cycled tank because plants are using nitrate in addition to ammonium which they convert from ammonia (?). My ammonia reading may be coming from ammonium because some of the water I added with my pleco had ammonia detoxifier in it. I thought it was better not to detoxify the ammonia for some reason or other. With the bio filter still build up bacteria if there is ammonium?

And just to get it straight, I should still do a 30% water change (I have one brand of chorine, choramine, and ammonia detoxifier, don't know off hand but it's in a yellow bottle). What do we do water changes for anyway? And how do I know when and how much water changing to do?

You guys are awesome, I love all the feedback. It makes me feel like this whole forum is about me :0) which it is in my limited little fishy microcosm over here.

By the way I haven't looked at the water link, Angel...maybe I should brace myself!
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:17 PM   #19
 
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15-30% water change is average do as little or as much as you want or need to... most of us do them 1x weekly b/c fish need fresh water and the change also removes waist that the fish produce. personally i average 20% 1x weekly and its my saturday morning routine..
btw .. welcom :)
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Old 11-10-2009, 08:42 PM   #20
 
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I always do about 30% each tank, each Saturday. The reason you wanna do it is simply to remove what your fish leave behind before it become too much (some "waist" is good for your plants, but too much is not good, again the balance is the key). If you don't clean at all, you'll have too much waist and your tank's bio system will collapse on the other side, if you wipe it clean & sterile like a hospital each week, again you killed all beneficial bacterial and your tank will flip.
Yellow bottle...hmm only one I know yellow is Tetra and the one I know from them does not remove ammonia.
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